This feature is on a member of our techsytalk community - Jim Spellos. Industry leader and tech expert. Catch him at techsytalk LIVE 2015 as well in New York City!
Jim Spellos is the founder of Meeting U. Now in its 16th year, its purpose is to help people become more comfortable with technology. How cool is that??? Although Jim proudly claims the title of geek, he’s not your typical IT variety. His primary interest is in helping you understand what’s out there and how you can use it with less fear and more comfort.
You may remember Jim’s presentation at last year’s techsytalk LIVE, called, “The Ultimate Meeting Professional’s Guide to Internet Connectivity.” It was a comprehensive review of everything you need to know to ensure that your event venue has the bandwidth you need to suit your tech needs. In fact, he and fellow industry heavy hitter Corbin Ball have developed a cool app called Techspec, that enables you to walk through a site visit at a prospective venue and assess its internet capabilities. Talk about good to know! He’s even encouraged planners to share their findings with one another on his Facebook page.
This is a perfect example of how Jim sees his role in the world – as someone who welcomes as many people as possible into the tech community. Although he spends more than a third of his time working with people in the hospitality business, his reach extends into the admin, food, funeral and construction industries, to name a few. Traveling throughout the US and Canada, he gives between 100 and 150 presentations, seminars and workshops a year. His primary interest is in teaching end users like you and me to use tech to be better able to provide content, communication and clarity for our customers.
According to Jim, the leading edge topics in the modern world of technology fall under the following categories: mobile, social, augmented and wearable. These are the lynchpins for the conversation that is unfolding all around us. What he’s most interested in, and what he’ll be talking about at this year’s techsytalk LIVE is the augmented, wearable frontier. “We’re past the phone era. To me, your smart phone is essentially going to become your personal server in a few years. You’ll carry it, it’ll be in your pocketbook, it’ll be in your pocket, and you probably won’t take it out very much. You’re going to be interacting with all the other components of technology that you’re wearing and you’re carrying with you.”
Interestingly, when asked about one basic piece of technology that we should all be paying attention to, Jim replied, “Excel.”
My goodness. It’s practically Luddite in comparison with what’s unfolding all around us. But Jim made a couple of great points. First of all, Excel is an essential organizing tool for anyone in the event world (to this day, Jim teaches a half day course for the hospitality industry). But more importantly, many people have not yet mastered technology basics before they begin grappling with more complex tools. It wouldn’t hurt any of us to take a step back and make sure we are building on a solid foundation of knowledge and comfort before we start messing around with more advanced gadgets.
This goes to the heart of Jim’s approach to incorporating technology into our work, and why he loves what he does so much. When addressing any group, he always finds a wide variety of abilities and understanding when it comes to technology. By breaking things down in a way that makes sense for the needs of the users, he’s able to help people connect to these tools and develop more confidence in their use. H finds the many lightbulb moments he witnesses extremely gratifying. It’s why he does what he does.
Jim believes that bringing new technology into any business should be an organic process. “The success of technology is a blend and not a replacement. It’s about how we integrate this into what we already do well, rather than how do we ditch everything we’ve been doing for a hundred years and move onto something which is going to be at best a risk and a gamble and at worst, completely a curse and anathema to the people who are using it.”
For Jim Spellos, the use of technology is never an end unto itself, but rather a way to improve the quality of the work we are doing and take it in new and exciting directions. His goal is to help people always be up on the leading edge of tech, but then decide how and if it’s best to use it. In fact, there’s no tech that he considers too outdated to implement, if it makes sense. For example, even though many people consider this the post-PC era, with the rise of tablets and other mobile devices, using a PC or a Mac may still be the best solution for many tasks. And take QR codes. Some people consider them a waste of time, but some organizations use them perfectly for what they need to do.
In the best spirit of entrepreneurship, Jim is not afraid of risks. In fact, like so many successful risk takers, he encourages people to play around and make mistakes, even to the point of failure. (Perhaps it's the artist in him... did you know Jim is also in a band??) Not only is failure one of our best tools of learning, but it can also breed great innovation.
Like so many successful event professionals, Jim is constantly looking to push the boundaries of our industry by trying new things. In conjunction with EventMobi, Meeting U. developed a cool mobile app for the organization Rock & Wrap it Up, whose mission is to redirect unused food from events to people in need. Named the Whole Earth Calculator, the app converts the amount of food donated into meals served, carbon emissions and methane saved and landfill averted and then shares it onto Twitter, so the organization can show their sustainability efforts. How awesome is that?
Are you still harboring any techno-phobia? Then you definitely need to catch Jim at this year’s techsytalk LIVE. Learn from the man who says that the shift to wearable technology is going to be “evolutionary, not revolutionary.” Doesn’t that sound safe and easy? And whether you’ve heard of Oculus or not, you’re not going to want to miss the cool virtual reality demo that starts off his presentation. Come on and get inspired!